No matter what part of the country you live in, you’re never too far away from a breathtaking public golf course. Here are our top picks—and supporting arguments.
Kiawah Island Resort Ocean Course
Johns Island, South Carolina
Known simply as The Ocean Course, this Southern gem boasts more seaside holes than any other course in the Northern Hemisphere: Ten of them teeter right alongside the Atlantic. But those picturesque coastline views come at a price—Kiawah’s unique setup makes it extremely vulnerable to unpredictable (and score-raising) sea breezes.
At just nine years old—a baby compared to many other public courses—Erin Hills already has a lot to brag about: It’s one of the most highly regarded Midwest golf courses, it clocks in at an expansive 652 acres, and its fairways stay in tip-top shape thanks in part to a strict golf cart ban. These reasons and more are why Erin Hills was chosen to host the U.S. Open in 2017.
Pinehurst has been the site of three U.S. Open tournaments, most recently in 2014, when it hosted back-to-back men’s and women’s championships. With the first of its nine courses founded in 1898, Pinehurst has enough history and character to make it the golf resort equivalent of a living legend.
Pebble Beach, California
We’d be crazy not to include the five historic golf courses at Pebble Beach Resorts—which have been deemed so because they truly have it all: Pebble Beach Golf Links has hosted the U.S. Open five times, and Spyglass Hill is notoriously tough to maneuver (and was inspired by Treasure Island). The Links at Spanish Bay shows off the Monterey Peninsula’s rugged beauty, while Del Monte is one of the oldest U.S. courses west of the Mississippi. And the nine-hole Peter Hay is perfect for beginners, kiddos, and those who’ve just recently dusted off their clubs.
Of the five courses at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, Pacific Dunes steals the show—it outranked even Pebble Beach in 2005, according to Golfweek. A minimalist design by architect Tom Doak allows the majestic Northwest terrain and epic panoramas of the Pacific to shine through.